Canada, Korea Forge Successful
Partnership in Nuclear Energy
AECL and Korean cos. Cooperate on projects in Korea and abroad
More than 30 years ago, Canada ¡ª represented by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) ¡ª and Korea began a successful partnership in nuclear energy that continues to strengthen and bring economic prosperity to both countries today. There have been many milestones along the way, starting with the successful completion of the four-unit Wolsong CANDU nuclear power project and leading, today, to opportunities for AECL and Korean companies to cooperate on projects both in Korea and in other countries.
In Korea, the government has made nuclear power a priority for three decades. Globally, the demand for safe, clean, reliable and economic nuclear electricity continues to grow. The keys to delivering these much-needed megawatts lie in optimizing the operation and management of current nuclear power plants (NPPs), refurbishing aging plants and extending their life, and developing and deploying new designs with enhanced safety and economics.
AECL and Korean companies continue, today, to work together to focus their joint resources on these priorities.
AECL is a full-service nuclear technology company, providing products and services to nuclear utilities around the world. Established as a Canadian-government-owned Crown corporation in 1952, AECL designed and developed the CANDU nuclear power reactor, which continues to be a top performer on four continents.
AECL first opened its office in Korea more than 30 years ago, working closely with its major customer, the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Company Ltd. (KHNP), a subsidiary of Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), a wholly government-owned corporation.
The first AECL-designed and supplied 700-MWe CANDU 6 unit, Wolsong 1, went into operation in 1983. This was followed by Units 2-4, which went into service in 1997, 1998 and 1999, respectively. AECL acted as prime contractor to Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) for the nuclear steam supply system (NSSS),
and architect engineer for the balance of plant (BOP). For these last three units (completed on time and on budget), localization was a key consideration for Korea ¡ª reaching an impressive 70% Korean content for the last two units.
The CANDU 6 plant has earned the reputation as one of the world's top-performing nuclear power reactors. Operated by some of the world's leading utilities, the CANDU 6 design produces safe, reliable and economic electricity. It is a 700-MWe-class heavy-water-moderated, heavy-water-cooled pressure-tube reactor with basic CANDU features, such as natural uranium fuel, on-power refueling and two independent safety systems. The CANDU 6 evolved from earlier units at the Pickering A station in Ontario.
CANDU and Wolsong Plant Performance
Today, there are 34 CANDU units around the world, including 11 CANDU 6 units. The average annual and lifetime performance of all CANDU 6s to the end of 2007 was 88.8% 1). The Korean units have consistently been top performers. In fact, Wolsong 4 was the CANDU 6 with the highest lifetime performance up to December 2007 2). As well, CANDU 6 units in Korea, China and Argentina have repeatedly achieved "One Cycle Trouble Free"operation.
In Korea, one of the few countries that has both light-water-cooled pressurized water reactors (PWRs) and heavy-water-cooled CANDUs, KHNP statistics show that the top three NPPs, for lifetime performance up to February 2008 were Wolsong 4 (94%), Wolsong 1 (93%) and Wolsong 3 (92%), with Wolsong 2 (91%) in fifth position.
This superb performance is due to both KHNP and AECL, and to the CANDU reactor technology, which allows units to change fuel "on power's without shutting down. KHNP has shown itself to be an excellent plant operator, managing its plants rigorously and minimizing downtime. AECL, as CANDU developer/designer, is able to provide key knowledge and unique solutions to KHNP to help them keep their CANDU plants running at top performance.
Continuing Partnership in Korea
Since construction of the Wolsong units, there have been many and varied opportunities for AECL and Korean companies to work together from designing a research reactor to developing waste management solutions to servicing the Wolsong reactors to maintain their high level of operation and extend their life.
AECL and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) collaborated on the design of the HANARO research reactor in Daejon. AECL and KAERI also worked together to develop the advanced CANFLEX£— fuel bundle, a more efficient carrier for advanced CANDU fuels (and that can also be used with natural uranium). The two companies are also working with the Korea Electric Power Research Institute (KEPRI) towards implementing CANFLEX at Wolsong to assure continued high performance. Also in the advanced fuel cycle area, there has been collaboration on DUPIC (Direct Use of Spent PWR Fuel in CANDU), an attractive option to countries with both PWR and CANDU units. More recently, there has been interest in Recovered Uranium (RU), another way of using spent PWR fuel in CANDU reactors, to extend fuel resources.
On the waste management side, AECL and KHNP have developed an advanced version of AECL's Modular Air-Cooled Storage (MACSTOR£—) dry fuel storage system, known in Korea as the KN 400, capable of storing 24,000 CANDU spent fuel bundles. The
design phase of the KN400 project began in 2001 and the design was completed and licensing by Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) secured in February 2008. KHNP completed site grading in early May 2008, with site excavation beginning in mid-May. Steel liners for the MACSTOR modules (24 per module) are currently being fabricated locally.
KHNP's most important current CANDU project is the refurbishment of Wolsong 1. This will extend the reactor's life and maintain its high performance. AECL's major role is to replace the unit's pressure tubes and calandria tubes (known as retubing). This project is currently in its early stages. AECL is also working with KHNP, Korea Electric Power Engineering Company (KOPEC), and KEPRI in other refurbishment-related areas.
AECL and its subcontractors, KOPEC and Kinectrics, played a major role in designing the Wolsong Tritium Removal Facility (WTRF), which went into operation in 2007. This will help reduce tritium levels during Wolsong 1 retubing, and ensure safe continued operation of all four Wolsong CANDU units.
In Korea, TSM Tech Co., Ltd recently signed an MOU with AECL work together to supply Emergency Core Cooling (ECC) sump strainers to Korean PWR and CANDU reactors. AECL is also working with Korea Nuclear Engineering Co., Ltd (KONEC) to provide engineering services to KHNP.
Partnering in China
Korea's investment in CANDU 6 reactors has had major benefits for Korean supplier companies, who first developed expertise for the Wolsong site and now are valued CANDU equipment and service suppliers in nuclear projects both in Korea and around the world.
AECL's Qinshan CANDU project in China has provided major opportunities for Korean companies outside Korea. For example, Doosan Heavy Industries Company Ltd. (DHICO) supplied steam generators and other equipment and KHNP's technical experts participated during construction of these two units, which went into operation in 2002 and 2003. Moojin Kee Yeon Co., Ltd. under subcontract to AECL, is now supplying MACSTOR-related equipment to the Qinshan site.
Future Opportunities in Refurbishment
There continues to be major global interest in CANDU technology and, therefore, opportunities for Korean companies to participate in both refurbishment and new-build CANDU projects.
Major reactor refurbishments are either planned or underway at all CANDU 6 stations. This includes the current Point Lepreau (PLGS) CANDU 6 refurbishment project in New Brunswick, Canada, for which AECL is the general contractor. For this major and complex project, AECL worked closely with the utility (New Brunswick Power), the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, and other project partners on the condition assessment of PLGS in order to develop a comprehensive integrated project plan and schedule for retubing and refurbishing the plant. Korean manufacturers DHICO and TSM Tech are supplying nuclear grade components for the PL and Wolsong refurbishment projects.
Also in Canada, Units 1 and 2 at the Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario are being refurbished. Bruce Power is providing project oversight, with AMEC NCL managing the project and AECL supplying and installing new fuel channels and associated components.
In the last 10 years, AECL has built more reactors than any other nuclear technology company. These were all CANDU 6 units, the latest of which, Cernavoda Unit 2 in Romania, was officially commissioned in October 2007. The last five new-build CANDU projects ¡ª Units 2-4 at Wolsong and Units 1-2 at the Qinshan site in China ¡ª were completed on or ahead of schedule and either on or under budget.
AECL currently offers two CANDU reactor products for new-build projects. These include an enhanced version of the 700-MWe-class CANDU 6 as well as a new, 1200-MWe Generation III+ Advanced CANDU Reactor£—, the ACR-1000£—.
The ACR-1000 is a Generation III+ 1200-MWe-class nuclear power plant with a 60-year design life that continues the evolution of the well-established CANDU line. It retains basic, proven CANDU design features, while incorporating innovations and state-of-the-art technologies to further enhance safety, operation, performance and economics. It uses low-enriched uranium fuel, in advanced CANFLEX bundles, and light water (instead of heavy water) coolant.
Technical improvements, system simplifications and advancements in project engineering, manufacturing, and construction, result in a reduced capital cost and construction schedule, while enhancing inherent safety and operating performance. The ACR-1000's design-basis lifetime capacity factor, over the operating life of 60 years, is greater than 90%, and its operating year-to-year capacity factor is greater than 95%. The initial ACR-1000 build project will be executed with a high degree of confidence. This is due to 80% of plant features, equipment and specifications being based on the CANDU 6 reference plant.
The ACR-1000 design was frozen in March 2007 and the program is now being managed as a full-scale project under AECL's CANDU Reactor Division. The Preliminary Safety Analysis Report (PSAR) for a site construction license is scheduled for 2010 and the in-service date is 2016.
New Build Opportunities
Possible CANDU 6 projects include a new 740-MWe CANDU 6 for the Embalse site in Argentina and completion of Cernavoda 3-4 CANDU 6 units in Romania.
Within Canada, Alberta, New Brunswick and Ontario are moving ahead rapidly with the new-build process. ACR-1000s are being considered for all three provinces, with sites in Alberta and New Brunswick for two and one ACR-1000 unit(s), respectively, and AECL competing with other vendors in the Ontario market. Once again, Korean companies ¡ª with their valued status as a CANDU partner ¡ª will have major opportunities to use their CANDU expertise.
The Canadian-Korean nuclear partnership should be a source of pride to both countries. It has expanded and strengthened year by year ¡ª with major benefits accruing to both countries through the construction and maintenance of CANDU reactors, and through the availability of clean, safe, economic nuclear energy. nw
The Wolsong nuclear power plant, built with the CANDU nuclear power reactor, designed and developed by AECL.
(left) AECL's President and Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Hugh MacDiarmid and AECL's CANDU Reactor Division President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Ken Petrunik.
1 CANDU Owners Group (COG) statistics
2 CANDU Owners Group (COG) statistics